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A Recording of an Unprepared Caller

Here’s a call I received from a guy who sells search engine optimization.  His model was apparently to call as many people as he can and give them the same pitch, without knowing anything about the companies or people he called, or their existing degree of sophistication regarding their web marketing.

While his opening statement contained an adequate benefit—front page exposure on major search engines resulting in a tremendous amount of traffic—he had no idea what we did, how we did it, and he had never even visited our site.
Which seems odd, given that he is selling something that will enhance websites.

As you heard, he did not get very far with me on this call, even defending his stance that it doesn’t really matter to him what a company does, since to him, "A website, is a website, is a website."

Perhaps, but he misses a very important point: As a buyer, I want to know that the salesperson and company I am entrusting my money with understands my business and what I’m looking to do.

This guy certainly isn’t the only one out there placing calls and not being prepared to do so. Which is mind-boggling to me. Today, we have so many tools available to us that easily and quickly allows us to gather some intelligence before our calls.

My philosophy is that when you are prospecting, the more you know about the company, industry, and individual you are calling, the greater your chance of making a connection, touching on something that is an issue in their world, and customizing your questions so that you can uncover needs that are unique to them, perceived, or otherwise.

And, this shows the prospect that you are different from every other caller who is just smilin-n-dialin, giving everyone the same pitch, like our friend on the recording.

I have a resource for you to help you collect this type of information before calls. For the Platinum members of my Telesales Success Inner Circle, I interviewed Sam Richter, author of the book, "Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling." Sam is an expert at using the web to gather business intelligence that will help make prospecting and sales calls more effective. In this interview/audio seminar, Sam shared lots of little-known tips and secrets for using the web to get information on people, industries, and companies. I was a bit shocked at how much information is actually available, IF you know where to get it.

You can get a copy of this one-hour audio seminar, and until Wednesday night, it is part of our Scratch and Dent sale and you can get it at a nice discount. Go to and scroll down to the "Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling" audio seminar.

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  1. 10 Comment(s)

  2. By Ted Luce on Feb 9, 2009 | Reply

    I think it would be great if he DID buy some of your materials, do the necessary research on your company THEN call you back.

    Art Reply:

    If he did the right things, I’d listen. I love to buy, and I’m quite easy when sales reps do the right things.

  3. By MaryJane Fitts on Feb 10, 2009 | Reply

    This is amazing. I can’t believe that sales people in today’s market think they can be successful with this type of selling. What a great tool to demonstrate the importance of knowing the customer. Thanks for sharing.

    Art Reply:

    I can only imagine that he is doing what he was hired to do, and was trained that way. The fault is with management mostly.

  4. By Craig Coleman on Feb 10, 2009 | Reply

    Incredible but very, very common: The telemarketer promises to dramatically improve your results in category X without any information whatsoever as to your current efforts in category X. You can’t sell B-to-B successfully like this. The business owner intuitively gets when a pitch is baseless- and the caller pretty much can’t recover from that. Blame it on this kid’s manager for putting out such a poor script and weak strategy. Either do some pre-call research or incorporate some initial questions into the script.

    Art Reply:

    Craig, yes, it really bothers me when someone says they can do x-better than what you are getting right now when they have no IDEA of what you are getting right now!

  5. By Michael Pedone on Feb 10, 2009 | Reply

    I used to own a search engine marketing company. First of all, There is only one search engine that matters (Google) not 13. I wish you would have exposed what company this was.

    Who do you blame here? The sales person or the company that is training him? I say both are to blame.

    Art Reply:

    Michael, thanks for sharing. I didn’t get the company name by the time I had turned the recorder on. As mentioned above, I mostly blame the company…the rep is doing what he was hired and trained (if he was trained) to do. But you’re right, he should realize there is a better way.

    Michael Pedone Reply:

    Hi Art:

    If nothing else, maybe this posting / comment dialogue will help “wake up” those sales people who think they don’t have a personal responsibility to make themselves better.

    Keep up the great work, Art!

  6. By James Hurst on Feb 11, 2009 | Reply

    Listening to this cold call brings back memories of how I used to cold call - before I was introduced to Art Sobczak and his sales training. It’s not just smile and dial.

  7. By Skip Anderson on Feb 11, 2009 | Reply

    Art, I love it when you share these actual call recordings because we can all learn from them. What I imagined during the call was the caller’s sales manager standing in the background shouting drivel such as “smile and dial” and “we need x number of dials today!”

    But what will lead to success is not just going through the motions, but using the right sales skills to achieve the desired result. It’s likely that you gave the caller more insight into his job in a couple minutes than he received in weeks or months or years from his management!

  8. By Andrew Rose on Feb 11, 2009 | Reply

    Hi Art,

    I got a call that was eerily similar to this one. I asked him to pull up my website while I was on the phone with him. He was selling YouTube videos (at 30K a pop) as a way to enhance website rankings. While he was critiquing my site, I opened his and found they lacked some of the basic SEO requirements. Once I gently exposed him a fraud, he thanked me and hung up.

  9. By Gertie on Feb 11, 2009 | Reply

    Remember Art, he is just a kid. YES tell him what it is he’s doing wrong but really I thought that you were way too cold and harsh. I have been cold calling for years and I know that the business world is very cold but honestly I’ve yet to run into a C/VP level that would sound anything like this call. Present an opportunity to learn to this kid instead of being the confident rejecter. Be the change in his life with a little if any “no thank you, learn this, do not say that, and I wish you the best of luck kid, it sounds like this is your first week/day/hour on the phone. Say it with a heart not a slap. You actually sounded arrogant and cold in your intonation towards him, not a leader. You can tell that the kid was horrified and very jittery and YES he did say some dumb canned lines. You backed him into a corner of nervous laughter. I think you forgot that he too is just a person with a script his bosses told him to say. He did try to engage in conversation with you and you were unnecessarily cold. Who knows for sure Art, maybe your harsh manner of total non engagement of conversation might be the one call to get him to quit. Hey… why not record it and display it on my website and really embarrass the kid in front of his colleagues,firends, and family. A classless move on your part. How do you show leadership and treat people when they are in the process of beginning??

    Michael Pedone Reply:


    I respectfully disagree with your stand. Art did try and help him. He asked if he knew what company he was calling. He mentioned he should check it out. Sometimes it takes “hearing” your sales calls to really grasp what you are doing right and what could be done better.

    And if having his call posted as an example of what not to do inspires him and he gets better and now increases his earning potential, he’ll have Art to thank.

    Mike Reply:

    I have to agree with Michael Pedone.
    You based your comment largely on your feeling that Art mistreated a young person. C’mon, the caller is at least 20 something, right? He may be a novice, and that would have been a better way to refer to him, but surely he’s not a child.

    I’ve heard better pitches from Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, far younger than that caller. Any arrogance surely was the caller who “kind of” listened to Art’s feedback but was all to quick to resume his ill-fated agenda, to say nothing of his “all I know” comments. In fact, at the end, Art’s finesse is what led the caller to his own self evident truth, “maybe I’ll have to pick up one of your books, hah hah.”

    I believe that must have been the most beneficial call of that caller’s day, and to his point, he’s got the quantity, but how about the quality? Hopefully he had some good takeaways from that call. Again, I didn’t hear anything at all wrong with how Art handled it. In fact, I was hoping for this caller to ask ANY type of questions just to keep Art’s wisdom flowing to him. We can blame the management for sure, but not Art, Art’s the one who gave that guy some real gems so I hope the management was listening. This notion that a script was even used on this call, hmm I wonder.

    Remember, Art is C-Level at Business By Phone and gave this dude sage advice, like leaders should and many do. So if you’ve never run into a C-Suite contact that would sound anything like this call, whether you agree or not with the tone or delivery, perhaps spend more time with C-Levels.

  10. By Josiane Feigon on Feb 17, 2009 | Reply

    You are brutal, cruel and spot on. Damn, you are good= excellent work. Great example
    I know I owe you something for your newsletter.


  11. By Scott on Feb 19, 2009 | Reply

    Hello, Art. Always appreciate your emails and your guidance. Good grief! After listening to this poor guy, all I can do is feel sorry for him and HOPE!!!! that he takes your good advice. His sales call was pretty dreadful. But as I say, we go and we grow. I’m sure he will in time.

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